Bamburgh in Northumberland typifies most peoples ideas of an idyllic country escape. The village is located in one of the most breathtakingly beautiful coastal areas in England and its enormous white sandy beaches stretch for miles. In Anglo-Saxon times Northumbria was a mighty Kingdom and a formidable opponent. It started north of the River Humber past the River Sheaf at Sheffield, across the Pennines and through Carlisle to the Irish Sea, then northeast across country, through the Border Region and Edinburgh (known at the time as Edwin's Borough) as far as the Firth of Forth. The village was a natural fortification because of its massive rocky outcrop, and recent excavations by Newcastle University suggest that until as late as the 12th Century Bamburgh was actually an island linked to the mainland by a causeway. Founded in 547 by King Ida, the village became the seat of Northumbria. King Ida's grandson gave the village to his wife Bebba and it became known as Bebbanburgh, later to become Bamburgh. About a century later it was the seat of the Northumbrian King Oswald, who built a fortification on the rocky outcrop, and this became the base for his Celtic Mission on Iona to develop Christianity. Aidan and the Irish monks led Oswald's mission. In the 12th Century a magnificent castle was built on the rocky outcrop where Oswald's fortification had stood. Today the castle dominates the village and towers over the sea; it was built using magnificent red sand stone and is indeed an impressive sight. It has been the home of the Lords Armstrong since the 19th Century and is open to the public during the summer season. Bamburgh Castle is one of the most recognised landmarks in Britain and a major attraction for visitors to the village. Visitors can not fail to be impressed by the stunning mix of the medieval castle and stately home although only a few of them will actually be aware of the great historical assoc
iation the castle site has with the history of the northern region (and that's another opinion). Bamburgh and York were the two most important centres in Anglo Saxon Northumbria. Other interesting places to visit in Bamburgh are the Grace Darling Museum, the museum commemorates the life and times of undoubtedly the world's greatest lifeboat heroine, her fame is due to a single act of courage. In 1838 the paddle steamer 'Forfarshire' was wrecked on the Farne Islands across from Bamburgh and Grace Darling and her father rescued nine men in a small rowing boat. The Museum can be found in a small cottage near the village green and is looked after by the RNLI. St. Aidan's church stands across the road from the Museum, the church was built on the site where Aidan died. Grace Darling was buried in the graveyard and her memorial is of interest to visitors, she was buried facing out to sea so she could forever watch over the brutal coastline. History is not the only claim to fame that Bamburgh has. There are miles of sandy beaches for those who like to walk, or just sit and watch the world go by. The relatively quite roads make cycling a pleasant prospect and bike hire is available in the village. Bamburgh, Seahouses and many of the other villages up and down the coast have excellent golf courses. There is also the stunning picturesque coastline. Bambrugh boasts one of the finest beaches in England with its vast expanse of fine sands at low tide - stretching down the coast to Seahouses and a few miles up the coast to Budle Bay, a world renowned bird-watchers paradise with many unusual and interesting species of waders. There are a number of good hotels and guesthouses in the village along with tearooms and shops catering for both local needs and those of visitors. I have always only been a day visitor to Bamburgh so I could not really recommend a place to stay, but they all look well kept and comfortable.
Under the shadow of the castle in Front Street is a row of stone built cottages and nestling in the centre is The Copper Kettle Tea-room, now recognised as one of the finest tearooms in the UK. It is very cosy and captures the atmosphere of the traditional English tearoom. Hand carved oak panels complement the beams in the ceiling from which hang a collection of original copper kettles. The patio garden provides a colourful suntrap for sun worshipers. Bamburgh is one of the most popular tourist sites in the North East of England. With its tranquil rural setting, just off the beaten track off the busy A1 trunk road it is an ideal base for visitors who want to explore the region. Towns and villages such as Berwick, Anlwick, Warkworth, Amble and Rothbury are all easily accessible as are the Borders of Scotland. Take the short drive down the coast to Seahouses for a trip across to the Farne Isles or go a little way up the coast and drive over the causeway to Lindisfarne. If you are thinking about a golfing, bird watching, touring, historical or just relaxing break in the North of England there are numerous lovely little villages with very reasonably priced accommodation but not many have as much to offer as Bamburgh.